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Found 7 results

  1. Hi all, So, i've just begun my journey into Astronomy and subsequently have fallen into the rabbit hole of Astrophotography, as stated in the title i currently own a SkyWatcher Skyliner 200P FlexTube SynScan Dobsonian Telescope however as you may all know the dobsonian mount isn't really feasible for long exposure photographs and have started researching EQ Mounts and will most likely go with the Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro GOTO Mount & Tripod however i have seen comments about not being able to convert the FlexTube models of telescopes and was wondering if anyone here has had any success converting a SW flextube telescope to work on a EQ mount using tube rings? Thanks!
  2. Good morning people of the SGL collective. I have to admit to an act of selfishness, which is more annoying given that SGLX and the partial eclipse is so close, and the now impending couple of weeks of forthcoming rain and cloud too. Though I won’t be attending SGLX, I live close to Mordiford, so by proxy, I fear that will have an impact. I have turned to the Dob Side. Two years ago, I bought my first scope, a 150p which amazed me. I was hooked. This Thursday I took delivery of my new 300p Flextube which now has pride of place in the living room as I don’t have anywhere else to store it. Matters of consequence are secondary in cases like this you must understand. The process has taken around 6 months to come through in total while my mind went from scope to scope, review to review and showroom visit to showroom visit. SGL being key at all stages, even down to supplier reviews. I’ve documented the build process and first impressions here. I will replicate it in part on the forum when I have more time over the weekend. However, I am now considering the bolt-ons and mods that I can make. I have already replaced the secondary collimation screws with thumb screws similar to Bobs Knobs. I also bought a new Telrad base and have removed the stock finderscope attachment in favour of the Telrad base. And finally, I am waiting on delivery of a dual-speed focuser too. Once the damage to the bank account has been repaired, next on my list will be a shroud. So, my question to the forum. What suggestions or thoughts do you have about improvements or additions to the scope other than those already mentioned? The build and construction itself I am happy with, though I have read about owners applying lithium grease to the bearings for smoother running, but at the moment I am happy with the way it runs. How it reacts in the field is of course a different thing though. Clear Skies (hopefully) everyone. Tony
  3. Next year is a big birthday and I am considering buying myself the Skyliner 16 inch flextube https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-400p-flextube-dobsonian.html and a trailer to carry it in! If anyone has one, is it a good choice?! I do not want a wholly scaffold tube so the flextube seems an ideal compromise. How often and easy would collimation be for this beast? And what weight + length is the OTA when telescoped down?
  4. The Skywatcher Flextube 300p Dobsonian After many months of thinking and research, the time has arrived when I have moved onto my next scope. Just over two years ago, I bought my Skywatcher 150p which has been an excellent first purchase. I doubt I will ever get rid of it because it gives me a reasonable travel options for putting in the car when going on holiday etc. But, there comes a time when aperture fever takes over, and a turn to the dark side is made. That dark side, is, THE DOB MOB! The decision process has been a varied journey. Just when I thought I had made my mind up, then I would read another review, and I would change my mind. Eventually, after a visit to Tring Astronomy Centre and a plethora of emails back and forth Neil and Jane, I eventually decided on the SkyWatcher Flextube 300p Dobsonian telescope. So, this is my attempt at a first impressions, come unboxing, come initial review of the new toy. The scope was delivered in two quite large boxes. One flat pack containing all the components of the dobsonian mount, and the second containing the tube assembly and instructions. There was some superficial damage on the boxes, but I guess they are the protective packaging and will be subject to light damage in transit. The mount is the first thing that needs to be put together, so I opened this box first. As part of my research, I learnt that the instructions that come with the scope were not supposed to be as good as the ones available online. So, in preparation, I printed out the instructions before the scope had arrived and used those. I checked through the component list to make sure that all parts were present and correct. I would say that the tools supplied with the flat pack are adequate for the job, but most people would have better tools available in their toolbox. For two screws in particular, the supplied crosshead screw driver is too small, and you could do with a larger one to get better purchase. The base is made from chipboard, laminated in white with the Skywatcher logo present on each side of the base. During my research, I read some reviews from users who had concerns about moisture penetrating the chipboard. Whether it happens to my mount or not, only time will tell, but the laminate is sealed on the edges very well, and very durable to the scratch, so providing I take good care of it, the mount should last me for the lifetime of the scope. All the holes used for constructing the base are pre-drilled and I must say, are very accurate. Over the years, I've put together plenty of flat pack furniture, and sometimes, our Swedish friends aren't always that accurate with their drilling techniques shall we say. This is certainly not the case with the mount. All the holes married up perfectly and the screw fittings bit into the pre-drilled holes very well. I did have a concern at one point in case the diameter of the screws caused the chipboard to bulge, by my concerns were unnecessary. However, I was very careful not to overtighten the screw fittings. The bulk of the fittings are Alan key type, and though one normal Alan key is pretty much the same as another, they are a bit fiddly when trying to use in tight corners. A better tool to use if you have one is a screw-driver type with changeable head. Using one of these will make the job easier. The final section to the mount construction is the fitting of the turntable. It is an incredibly simple yet efficient design. The first thing to do was to attach the 3 small rubber feet to the base. Previously, there has been an issue according to some review that the screws used to do this were too long and pierced the surface the other side. However, this has seemingly been addressed with at least 1/4" left. While these feet will be fine on solid surface like a patio or paving slabs, if you plan on using the dob on grass, I think the weight of the unit in total will cause the feet to sink on softer ground. I don’t expect SkyWatcher to design according to every eventuality, but in my case, I will need to make some tweaks. No major issues. The turntable sits on a plastic type pad with cylindrical bearings sandwiched in between two circular metallic discs. It could be an option to add some lithium grease to these bearings, but for the time being I have left them as was out of the box. The bearing, the base and the rest of the mount are all aligned through a single central hold drilled through all the components and lined with a short plastic tube. Then, a single bolt is pushed through with a locking nut used to tighten the whole assembly together. I guess it will need to be taken apart at times to be cleaned. The gap between the base and the mount is small, but still wide enough for dust and grit to find its way in. Having said that, for people who see looking after and maintaining their scopes as an enjoyable element of the hobby as I do, this sort of thing would be covered in your routine maintenance. 4 Nylon bearings are fitted on the inner side of each part of the mount. These are the bearings that will hold the tube assembly when it is dropped into place. And so, with the addition of the eyepiece holder and front handle, the construction of the base was complete. It's solid, it's smooth and looks to be well designed. As yet, and perhaps someone can help me out here, I can’t quite see the purpose of the front handle. I don’t know if it’s there to aid lifting the base during transportation, or if it is there to help rotate the mount. The fixings are quite strong, but I wouldn’t like to allow the full weight of the mount to be held by the handle alone. The eyepiece holder is fine, perhaps I could put it on the viewing side of the mount, but to be honest, I probably won’t use it. I usually have a small camping table next to me with my charts, notebook and EP case on. So, the next step in the build process is the tube assembly. Inside the box was the tube itself, along with a smaller box containing the stock eyepieces, focuser adapters and right at the bottom, the instructions. It seems a little odd putting the instructions at the bottom of the second box, but I suppose usually people empty everything first if they have the space. Before I pulled the tube out, I took a look at the stock eyepieces that come with it. They are the standard 10mm and 25mm eyepieces that come with many Skywatcher telescopes. In comparison to the ones that came with my 150p, they are similar, perhaps built a bit better, but standard none the less. These days, I tend to use the 25mm just for alignment of the Telrad or finder scope, and that’s about it. Also in the little box was the stock finder scope. The finder scope is quite large and robust. Some people will chose to replace it as I have. Other people will put a right angle adapter on it to make the viewing angle more convenient. A quick look through it showed the definite crosshairs against a daylight sky. I’m not sure how effective these would be against an inky black sky though. Before I got my Telrad, I used the stock finder scope with the 150p a little bit awkward. It did the job, but other finders do it better. Something that has concerned me with the attachment base for the finder scope is its reliance on a single grub screw to hold the finder in place. Whilst many will say nothing has happened, the lack of no locking mechanism to back up the grub screw does mean that you have a reasonably weighted metal object begin held sometimes directly above the primary mirror does require caution. To attach the tube assembly requires lifting the tube onto the mount and resting the tube on the nylon bearings. These support the tube on their own accord. I needed to make sure that the tube was put onto the mount with the focuser on the correct side for your preferred side of viewing. Once the tube assembly is sitting on the nylon bearings, the holes for the tension control handle and other handle line up perfectly to allow you to screw in them into the sides of the tube. That, in essence, is the main build part of the scope. All that remains is to extend the tube and fit the finder scope. The scope comes with two covers. The first is a shower-cap type cover over the top of the secondary mirror as modelled by the rubber chicken. I don't think this will last too long and is perhaps just for transport. I think that I will find alternative protection in the future. To bring the tube to its full length, there are 3 thumb screws at the bottom of each of the truss supports. These need to be loosened, and then the top section can be lifted to extend the trusses to their full length. Be aware that there are two points at which the trusses click into place. The first click does not signal the point of full extension. Continue pulling the secondary section up until you get the second click. Small catches click into place once the full height is reached. The thumbscrews can then be tightened again to avoid the secondary mirror sliding back down. One of my initial concerns when first considering this scope instead of others was how strong the trusses were. I was concerned that there would be an element of twist between to top and bottom sections. However, after seeing a similar model in the shop at Tring Astronomy, and now having my own, these concerns were quickly dealt with. Again, the tube and truss support construction are very strong, and I couldn’t detect any circular or twisting movement. If I could, it would mean collimation would be incredibly hard, almost impossible, to maintain. Speaking of collimation, this was the last thing that I did in the build section. I used my cheshire collimator and then my laser collimator to check. Collimation wasn't far out at all and just required a quick tweak of the primary to bring the red laser dot onto target. It was whilst doing this that I came across the trickiest part of the build. Two out of three of the collimation screws were turning quite readily. However, the third was incredibly tight. It took a great deal of fiddling, and even a Leatherman tool to try and loosen it off. I could see that is was tightened right up as the spring between the bottom of the scope and the mirror was fully compressed. The collimation screws themselves are well designed and nice and big, so I didn't have much concern about trying too hard. Finally, with the help of my left sock wrapped around my hand, I eventually managed to loosen the screw off. It was still quite hard to turn at first, but I spent 5 minutes or so turning the screw back and forth, and eventually it loosened off nicely. That was, quite literally the only sticking point in the whole process. In summary, before first light, do I like the scope? No, I don't. I love it! I am so glad I got it and I look forward to getting it out for first light. Is there much more to say about the scope? Yes, huge amounts. There are upgrades to be done, customisations and various fiddly things that amateur astronomer like to do to pimp up their scopes. There's first light. There's building some storage for it. There's the inevitable purchase of a shroud and possibly more eyepieces. All in due course. Thanks for reading.
  5. Having created what I though was a really neat Skywatcher FlexTube light-shroud in this thread, a smart Alec (okay, jimmyjamjoejoe) burst my balloon by pointing out that, a Heritage 130p owner had created a similar device that retracted with the top tube. Thus, I cannot claim this is my idea (darn!) but I can't see that anyone else has tried it on this scale. Thus, my ego is massaged! The FlexTube 300p has a 305mm diametre mirror, with the narrowest point of the castings that cap each OTA, being 342mm. Divided by 2, this means there is 18mm of clear space around the outside of the primary mirror. The camping mat I had to hand is 10mm thick, leaving 8mm for velcro to fix it. two layers of Velcro is more like 3-4mm, so as far as I was concerned, it was job done on the material front. Happily, the camping mat is 600mm wide whilst the drop to the primary mirror, allowing for the width of the velco at the top, is 650mm - Retracted, the shroud stops 50mm short of the primary mirror. Equally, fully extended, the 600mm wide camping mat sits about 50mm inside the top of the bottom tube. If you're going to make a similar shroud, but for a different sized scope, you need to measure the distance from the the top of the velcro on the top OTA, to just below the casting at the top of the bottom OTA. If this is LESS than the measuremnt the FlexTube contracts by, you're okay. I suspect, that 350 & 400p owners will need to source something wider than a standard 600mm camping mat as they extend by more than that amount. As for diametre, well Pi x 342mm = 1074mm long, so I cut it to 1070mm assuming that the reduction in diametre provided by the Velcro would provide a nice tight interference fit. It does, but this stuff is so easy to cut with a steel edge and Stanley knife, go a bit longer if you're unsure. Slightly tight is better than loose as the OTA keeps the shroud in shape under compression, but 10mm camping mat holds it's own shape pretty well. Anyhow, pictures: Pardon the slightly slack Velcro alignment - I'd stuffed it all together for the photos: In case anybody is worried about camping matt being a bit shiny - 1. Remember that I'm using a flash and 2. Compare the brightness of the matt to the flocking opposite the focuser. It's a non-issue: and from without The eagle eyed will spot two pieces of tape in the photo above. I used parcel tape to make a neat joint and then removed a couple of pieces at a time as I superglued it in segements from within and from without. The foam sucks up a lot of glue, so it does not go off in 20 seconds - more like 20 minutes, so you have to do it in stages. Perfect. Not quite. The bolts that hold the OTA mountings protrude, with sharp edges, into the OTA. They snag the shroud and if you're not careful, scratch it, producing lumps of foam that will fall on to the primary mirror. I've covered them with tape, but I've got some dome head nuts on order to cap them plus, I will run two strips of tape up the outside of the shroud to provide a smooth surface for them to run on. Hope this provides inpiration as it really is about £25 of material all in. It's WAY lighter than one of the commercial shrouds, which is a big balancing plus and looks a whole lot neater into the bargain. Cool. Russell
  6. I almost fainted when I went looking on the Astro shop websites for a dew shield for my new 12" Dob - £80 for a rectangle of black plastic and a strip of Velcro doesn't sound like money well spent to me So here is my DIY alternative, which I am well chuffed with… Materials Lightweight Camping Mat - £8.46 including delivery 20mm x 10m Self Adhesive Velcro - £3.99 including deliveryTotal cost = £12.45 Complicated manufacturing instructions Measure the outer circumference of the tube. Roll out the camping mat and measure a length which is about 70mm longer than the circumference of the tube. Cut the mat to size. Stick three lengths of Velcro to each end of the mat with the fuzzy side on one side of the mat and the hooked side on the other. You're done! And here is the finished product… This particular mat has enough stiffness that it retains a cylindrical shape very well so doesn't flop around on the scope. I had it out for 6 hours last night in quite damp conditions. The outside of the tube was dripping wet by the end of the session but there was no hint of dew on the secondary mirror. It remains to be seen how long the glue on the Velcro will last but I always have the option of stitching it on if necessary. Very quick and easy to put together and now I have £68 to spend on something else
  7. Hello everybody! As you all know, the transit of Mercury is coming up, and I'd like to get a solar filter and mount it on one of the cover's caps. However, I have the Skywatcher 250px Flextube, and I was wondering if there is danger in observing the Sun through such an open tube (with a filter on the end-cap). I know that sun rays are pretty much parallel to each other.. so in theory, no stray rays should enter from the side (correct me if I'm wrong here), but what about a passing vehicle that reflects the sunlight or something on that lines? Can any damage be done that way? Just to be on the safe side, I'm gonna cover the tube anyways... but I was wondering about this, and I also would like to raise these questions for other people with open scopes that might be viewing the transit. Thanks! Edit: I'm assuming here that I should move the plastic cover to the front of the telescope for solar viewing. Is that the case?
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